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2022 Training Camp Questions: Should We Pump The Brakes On George Pickens Hype?

Guess what, folks. It’s training camp time. And that means it’s time for training camp questions. For the first time since 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers are actually back at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe after having been forced to remain in Pittsburgh, where they held their past two training camps inside of the Field Formerly Known as Heinz.

Even though the Steelers are back on very familiar ground, more specifically on that of Chuck Noll Field, this is a training camp that is unusually full of certainty. After all, they haven’t had a genuine quarterback battle in a couple of decades, but they have one now with Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph.

We’ve got yet another new offensive line, with some incoming veterans in James Daniels and Mason Cole. Myles Jack is in at inside linebacker, replacing Joe Schobert, and we’ll have to see if Devin Bush can return to form after last year’s dismal display.

There’s still so much going on, and training camp will only create more questions as we go along, even as it starts to provide some answers. We’ll be covering them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Should we pump the brakes on some of the George Pickens hype for the time being?

Second-round wide receiver George Pickens has been lighting it up often enough during training camp thus far to garner national attention and hype. Speaking as somebody who was clamoring for the Steelers to draft him when their pick approached in the second round, should we put a bit of a pause on all of the hype until he actually does something that counts?

When most observers hype up a player that they watch in practice, they typically leave out all nuance and only focus on the highlights. While he is very obviously quite talented, however, he is not a finished product. He is still a work in progress in terms of becoming a nuanced route runner, and can double-catch the ball at times, for example.

There’s no reason to believe that he shouldn’t have success as a rookie, but should we be reserving space for him in the record books already? Plenty of rookies show up in training camp environments without bringing it into stadiums with any kind of meaningful regularity. James Washington was always a better practice player than in-game performer, for example.

Many a great player displays greatness immediately and is able to carry that on through the length of his career. But not everyone lives up to that potential. Right now, he is winning in a controlled practice setting. He hasn’t even gone up against an opposing NFL defense in a preseason game just yet. So I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t all just a little bit premature—for the time being.

But it’s sure fun to watch, anyway.

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